Torah Riddles Test #103

  1. This Question seems to be flawed, there is just an argument between the Har Tzvi and Rav Shlomo Zalman whether an animal can turn on a light for you on shabbos or shut it off, both speak about electric
  2. Question: Why can you teach a watch dog to turn on a light when intruders come even if he will do it on Shabbos but you cannot ask a dog to turn a light on for you on Shabbos?


A. The Har Tzvi (Ohr Hachaim 1:174) says that if one signals to a dog to light a fire or blow it out on Shabbos you are transgressing the mitzvah of resting your animal on Shabbos even if this is an indirect way of turning off the light it is considered a full-fledged melacha because any melacha an animal does is considered its normal way of doing things for them attributed to the owner.

 B.Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Shulchan Shlomo 266:1) poskins that if you teach a dog to turn on or off a light switch whenever an intruder comes you are allowed to have the dog outside to do this function on Shabbos because it’s only indirect melacha.

C. Turning on an electric light is indirectly doing a melacha because you are just completing or breaking a circuit to allow the light to go on or off.

D. Dogs don’t have cognitive thinking and melacha needs cognitive thinking for humans to be liable, I.e meleches machsheves.

Answer: It is an abnormal way for a human to use a dog to blow out or light a fire but the way the dog does it is normal for them therefore the owners will be liable for not resting the dog. But completing or breaking the circuit by itself is indirect and is only liable if you have a cognitive intent to perform the act to cause the melacha to be done but since an animal doesn’t have a cognitive thought process and by definition the completing of the circuit is indirect even if the animal’s action is direct the owner would still be exempt. (See Dirshu Mishna Berura 246:3:12:8)